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Rainfall in the Amazon may drop by 20 percent because of deforestation

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Deforestation may cause rainfall in the Amazonian basin to decline disastrously, British scientists said in a study published on Wednesday by the journal Nature.

Rainfall across the vast basin could lessen by 12 percent during wet seasons and 21 percent during dry seasons, potentially inflicting astronomical costs on farmers and reducing hydro-electricity output from receding river flows.

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University of Leeds researcher Dominick Spracklen and colleagues put together a computer model based on satellite data of forest cover and rainfall patterns.

Air that passes over dense tropical vegetation carries at least twice as much rain as air that passes over land with sparse vegetation, they found.

The reason for this, they said, lies in a phenomenon called evapotranspiration.

Tropical forests are highly efficient at sucking water out of the soil, much of which is then delivered to the atmosphere as vapour through leaf pores.

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This not only helps to keep the local humidity of the forest at a constant level — it also charges the winds with droplets which are deposited further afield as rain.

Deforested land, though, is far less effective at recycling water this way, which means the air above it is less moist.

Factoring in logging trends in the early part of the century, which indicate 40 percent of the Amazon will be deforested by 2050, the team say the loss of rainfall across the river basin, from east to west, will be dramatic.

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Luiz Aragao, an environmental scientist at the University of Exeter, said the change in rainfall would be especially worrying for eastern and southern Amazonia.

On the assumption endorsed by many climatologists that global temperatures will rise by some three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by century’s end compared to pre-industrialisation levels, the impacts there “could be huge,” he said in a commentary.

“Changes in regional climate could exacerbate drought-related tree mortality, which in turn would reduce carbon stocks, increase fire risks and lower biodiversity.

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“Such changes might also directly threaten agriculture, which generates $15 billion (12 billion euros) in Amazonia, and the hydropower industry which supplies 65 percent of Brazil’s electricity.”

On the plus side, Aragao said the logging trends used in Spracklen’s model could be pessimistic, as Brazil has pledged to limit historical deforestation rates by 80 percent by 2020.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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‘You’re scared of brown women’: GOP congressman’s town hall spirals into chaos after he attacks Ilhan Omar

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Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) got a lot more than he bargained for when he held a town hall meeting with constituents in San Antonio this week.

The Austin American Statesman reports that Roy on Wednesday hosted a town hall meeting at the Compassion Church in northern San Antonio this week in which he was confronted over his criticisms of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

While Roy was attacking Omar during the meeting, a woman named Eva Perez yelled at him to "let it go" and stop slamming his Democratic colleagues.

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Trump-voting evangelist drops the ‘blasphemy’ hammer on president for deifying himself

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In a column for the Washington Post, an evangelical leader who admits he voted for Donald Trump in 2016  is very displeased that the president anointed himself the "chosen one" when speaking with the press on Wednesday.

According to Jay Lowder who heads up the Harvest Ministries in Wichita Falls, Texas, the president stepped over a line with his boast -- calling it "disturbing."

"Since President Trump’s election, many in the evangelical community have lauded him, grateful for his work to protect and propel some of the Christian values we hold so dear," before pointing out that a comparison to Jesus by man who "claims to be a Christian" is nothing less than " shocking, blasphemous and sacrilegious."

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Couple who ran demon-obsessed gay ‘conversion therapy’ camp indicted on human trafficking charges

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An Alabama couple who operated a controversial gay "conversion therapy" camp has been indicted on human trafficking charges in connection with a new religious facility they set up in Texas.

A grand jury indicted 49-year-old Gary Wiggins and 34-year-old Meghann Wiggins after investigators found they had forced children to work at their Joshua Home for troubled boys, reported KXAN-TV.

Burnet County officials raided the 10-acre property near Bertram in July 2018, where they removed eight boys between 10 and 17 years old as part of an investigation into possible abuse, neglect, labor violations, fraud, licensing violations and human trafficking.

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